Head lice are parasitic insects, which are found most often behind human ears and near the neckline at the back of the neck. The medical term for human lice infestation is “pediculus humanus capitis” or “pediculosis”. Although dealing with a case of head lice is a nuisance to combat and extremely uncomfortable (with the most common symptom being itching); lice do not carry any type of infectious disease.
There are 10 – 12 million reported cases of head lice in the United States every year. Head lice are more common among females than males most likely due to hair length. An infestation with lice is most frequent in families with children in the home between the ages 3 through 10. However, human lice may also be found on the body (aka: “body lice”) and pelvic or groin area (aka: “crab lice”), but are more common in adults. African Americans tend to have less reported infestations of lice than other ethnicity groups.
Life Cycle of Lice:
The life cycle of the head louse has three stages:
- Nit – the lice egg
- Nymph – the baby louse that hatches from the nit
- Adult louse
A single louse will live for about 30 days on a human host or up to 48 hours off a human host.
Nits are very difficult to see, as the oval shaped eggs are only 0.8mm by 0.3mm in size and very light in color (white or yellow) and are often mistaken for dandruff or droplets of hairspray. The louse attaches her nits firmly to the hair shaft and close to the scalp (within 6mm) because they require body heat for incubation. Nit eggs take about 7 to 10 days to hatch.
The Nit (egg) eventually hatches into a nymph (baby louse) and will be about the size of a pinhead, oval shaped and its color will be a yellow to a darker rust color. After the baby hatches, the nit shell remains attached to the hair shaft and turns a dull yellow. The nymph will also be found close to the scalp, preferring to stay close behind the human ears and neckline. A nymph will molt out of its exoskeleton 3 times before it becomes an adult, but will reach adult maturity within about 7 days.
Adult lice are grayish white, but turn a rust color after feeding. They are about the size of a pinhead, oval shaped with six legs and claws at the end of each leg. The female is larger than the male. Adult lice feed about 5 times each day. The louse’s mouth contains two retractable, needle-like tubes that pierce the scalp. Salivary juices are injected into the scalp to prevent blood from clotting and then the lice feed happily sucking blood through these same tubes. Adult lice are very active and travel extremely well. They can live up to 30 days on a human head and 48 hours off. A female louse will lay 3 to 10 nits per day.
How do you get lice?
Lice are usually spread by head-to-head contact, such as children playing, sharing clothing, hats, bedding, brushes and combs. Body lice are spread by either direct contact with someone already infested, or by sharing clothing or bedding. Pubic lice are generally spread during intimacy. Other than most species of birds, dogs, cats and other animals do not get lice.
How to prevent head lice
Routine examinations of the head using a lice comb will help to identify a lice infestation early and prevent the outbreak from becoming unmanageable. Diagnosing a lice problem quickly will also eliminate spreading the lice to school mates, friends and family. Using lice repellent products daily, such as ClearLice™ Repel Shampoo and Conditioner will decrease the odds of getting head lice even more.
How do I get rid of lice?
There are a variety of lice products available with claims as being effective treatments for head lice from hair remedies at home to hazardous, toxic, pesticide chemicals. Somewhere in between, there is a real solution. ClearLice™ offers natural, safe and chemical free shampoo and conditioner for the hair. In addition, we also provide a way to clean a lice infested home with a laundry additive for clothes and linens; as well as an environment spray for furniture. When the ClearLice™ products as used as instructed, a lice infestation may be combated within one day.